Archive for August, 2007

For me, the imaging object of Summer 2007 has been the Veil Nebula region in Cygnus.  This is to-date the greatest amount of data taken by me on one object, during one period – ever.  I’m not too sure I’ll be doing this again 🙂

This image comprises over 17 hours of total exposure time including 3 and a half hours of narrow band H-alpha data.  Over 8 hours of Hyperstar data for the Witch’s Broom region was also included in this image [these 8 hours were extra to the 17 hours taken on the Sky 90/M25C].

Processing time more than equaled imaging time on this one and Noel excelled himself here managing to squeeze out the very last traces of the Veil amidst a mass of overpowering stars – and quite a lot of Moon glow!

Why is the project only 90% complete? 

I have only just ordered an OIII filter [from Ian King imaging] to try and boost the blue/green regions you can see in the image.  If I can add this data in before the Veil moves into an unfavorable region of the sky [only a week or two away now] then I may finish this mega-project off this year.

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Deep-Sky Companions: Hidden Treasures (Deep Sky Companions) (Deep-Sky Companions)This is the third Stephen James O’Meara book in the Deep-Sky Companion series and it is the biggest and heaviest!

I had this one on pre-order with Amazon for over a year.  Twice the publication date was put back it seems – but the wait was well worth it.  It now sits proudly on my astronomy bookshelf.

With 584 high-quality pages you need to pick up this tome with both hands.  Again we have an Index (thank you Stephen) that was surprisingly absent in “The Messier Objects” and made its first appearance in “The Caldwell Objects”.   It is a similar format to the other two books with a nice Black and White image and a sketch of the object as seen by O’Meara through a small refractor.

This time there is an addition!  We also get a small star map of the region the object is located in for reference – a very useful and a very welcome addition.   Also, once again, the highly informative prose accompanies each object, and I really like the way O’Meara writes, so for me it adds a great deal to the enjoyment of the book.

A number of well-known and expected entries such as the Pac Man nebula, Kemble’s Cascade, and the Flame nebula – but a much larger number of nebulae, star clusters planetary nebulae and galaxies that I’d not heard of before.

None of the 109 “Hidden Treasures” are included in the Messier or Caldwell catalogues of course!  As a deep-sky imager this book has provided me with dozens of new exciting targets.

You simply must buy this book to complete the trilogy.  You can purchase this book from Amazon or any other good book dealer.

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We seem to have more than our fair share of power cuts in Brockenhurst and this has resulted in damage to both my computer and to the Celestron motor drive boards, both of which are very unpleasant experiences as you can imagine. 

I now use the Celestron Power Tank to power the Nexstar 11 GPS scope, basically a 12 volt rechargeable battery, and this isolates the scope entirely from the mains.  For the computer I now use an uniterruptible power supply [UPS] which is again based on a rechargeable battery which in turn powers an inverter. 

Finally, as I am also worried about glitches down the mains as well as the power cuts, I use Belkin “power surge” extension sockets which are designed to take any damaging spikes out of the mains supply. 

Touch wood – so far things seem to be working o.k.

I’d be interested to know if any one else suffers from similar problems and how you have dealt with it. Drop me a line and let me know.

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Hot news for today – I had a 10 minute radio interview with Julian Clegg on BBC Radio Solent this morning between 7.50-8.00am talking about our astrophotos

The BBC want me back on the show when the book Making Beautiful Deep-Sky Images is published for a longer discussion – so that will be October this year.

Hopefully some of you out there caught the broadcast.  If you missed it then, I believe, it is available on the BBC Radio Solent web site [not sure for how long]

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If you are a reader of The Express then you might have seen a half page article on page 23 of Bank Holida Monday’s Express.  Ok, so the picture doesn’t do me any favours [thanks for the suggestions about supporting garments Noel!].

Tom Price wrote the article and he suggested the highlights: it is amazing what you can achieve from your garden [and we are really pleased with the results we are getting] and anyone can do this with very basic kit and a bit of patience.

However, Tom obviously got some of the information from an earlier interview I did with the Daily Mail.  The main problem I have with the article is that he mentions the amount of £10,000!  Well, yeah, I probably have spent just under that amount over the last three years but that covers just about everything over that period.

The value of the equipment that I use is not particularily high.  In fact, I think one of the most expensive items was the concrete base to bolt the telescope onto!

As most of you know, you can spend just about any amount you like on the equipment but in reality you can start getting great images with relatively low cost gear.  We will be posting some “getting started” articles in the near future so make sure you keep an eye out for those.  Also, we cover how to set up and take images like ours in the book “Making Beautiful Deep-Sky Images”.

The picture in the article is one of our images of M31 – The Andromeda Galaxy [shown here because it is a great picture!]

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Deep-Sky Companions: The Caldwell Objects (Deep-Sky Companions) (Deep-Sky Companions)This book starts with a foreword by Patrick Moore.  Why a foreword by Patrick Moore?  Because the Caldwell list is Patrick’s list – his full name being Patrick Caldwell-Moore, and he didn’t want to use the Moore (M) for fear of confusing with that other “M” list – the Messier objects.

This is the second contribution of Stephen James O’Meara to the Deep-Sky Companions series of books. 

When you have mastered the Messier catalogue, and it is time to move on to a new list of interesting Deep-Sky objects, the Caldwell catalogue is ready and waiting.  Another 109 fine objects to discover, with a major difference from the Messier catalogue – the Caldwell catalogue lists Southern Hemisphere objects as well. 

So if you live in the U.K., North America or Europe and you want to “bag” all the Caldwell objects, you’ll need to do some travelling. 

Read the rest of this entry »

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Hi Everyone! Lucy Clark interviewed me the other day and a photographer came to the exhibition on Saturday (19th August 2007) for her article titled Stunning shots of the sky at night. 

It is appearing today in the Southern Daily Echo in both online and printed versions.  I’ve scanned the printed article and you can see the pages below (Please Note: the article is copyright Southern Daily Echo)

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Today, I found out that 160 people attended the Friday night opening of the Starscape II Exhibition!  I certainly don’t get a turn out like that for one of my 9.00 a.m. lectures 🙂

A very big thank you goes to Astronomy Now magazine who advertised this event in the August 2007 issue – many people who attended the Friday night opening had their Astronomy Now in hand 🙂

A “virtual” tour of the exhibition is attached to show you what you are missing

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.
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Deep Sky Companions: The Messier Objects (Deep-sky Companions) (Deep-sky Companions) When you first start observing or imaging, the Messier list of objects is a very good place to start looking for nice deep-sky objects in the Northern Hemisphere.

Stephen James O’Meara has produced a beautiful reference work on the Messier objects in this “Deep Sky Companions” masterpiece.  Each Messier object is carefully described by Stephen as it appears to him through a modest refractor.  In addition, a very useful black and white photograph accompanies each object so you can be sure that you’re looking at the right thing.

I refer to this book [as well as Stephen’s other 3 books that I will recommend] on an almost weekly basis.  Full of very useful information and background detail – very highly recommended!

You can purchase the book at Amazon or any other good book retailer.

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Opening night was very busy with over 120 people attending!  This was quite a lot more than I was expecting, but the hall is good for parties up to 200, so there was some spare standing room. 

Met up with some mates I hadn’t seen in a long time, as well as some of the Trade delegates who have supplied me with superb equipment. 

A Professor of Computing helped me out when the first PowerPoint slide didn’t appear to fire off the soundtrack, and once that was sorted, we were off. 

Drinks, lots of discussion, and plenty of questions, including the inevitable “are the colours real?” 

Don’t forget – the Exhibition runs until Friday 24th August, admission £1 only with children free – 10.30a.m. until 4.30p.m. every day.

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